There were two storylines going on in this episode: one was with Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) trying to get Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever - returning to the show that gave her a big break) and the other was Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) scraping money together so that he could get his fiancee, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), out of jail. Things seemed to play out with more urgency in this episode, given the news that there would only be one more season after this.
The episode opened in Tennessee with a pot dealer being beaten by two of his cohorts (played by Steve Harris and his brother Wood) due to his being shorted on a pickup of dope from two kids in Lexington, Kentucky. "Hot Rod" Dunham (played by Mickey Jones in a very different role than in his Home Improvement days) came and told the two thugs to take care of the situation. After Dunham left, the thugs filled the third with enough lead for a pencil factory.
Lee Paxton (Sam Anderson) was in a coma after being brutally beaten by Boyd. Mooney (William Gregory Lee), a cop who had it out for Boyd, got Paxton's wife, Mara (Karolina Wydra) to say that it was him, but she recanted when she went to Boyd's bar for a visual confirmation ... which alerted the slender criminal that he hadn't finished the job earlier.
Givens, after confiscating items - including a really nice Mercedes - from someone who laundered money for the Detroit mob, went to see McCready in jail after she had been caught selling marijuana to a cop's kid. He left her in the cell to stay overnight and then brushed off her boyfriend, Derrick. As he was leaving the courthoue, he ran into Alison (Amy Smart), McCready's social worker. She flirted heavily with him and then reamed him out for making McCready stay in the cell. Givens, who viewed himself as a big brother figure to McCready, decided he was going to go talk to Derrick and convince him to break up with McCready. Boyd went and talked to Mara and tried to suss out why she hadn't given him up. She said she wanted the money that Boyd had mentioned before so that she could go home. When he said he couldn't get it quickly, she basically insinuated she was blackmailing them.
Givens saw a truck with Tennessee plates outside Derrick's house and found the guys from Dunham's crew beating him up (Gee ... so THEY were the kids who had shorted Dunham's people). Givens intimidated them out of the place and then told him break up with McCready. Outside, he arranged a date with Alison. Slick, playa.
Boyd and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) were trying to deal with a possible insurrection among his dealers. Duffy had to field the questions first and one of the dealers was mouthing off at Duffy, which is never a wise thing. Boyd, who showed up late due to his meeting with Mara, assured them that they would get a shipment in a day and a half.
At the Marshals office, Givens talked about Sammy Tonin with Art Mullen (Nick Searcy, who got a lot more screen time this episode than the premiere), He also arranged to be able to stay at the home of the money launderer, given that it was now federal property. Once the meeting was over, Givens found McCready waiting and she told him that her boyfriend had disappeared. Turned out the Tennessee Duo had got their hands on him and were having him dig up the money that he and McCready embezzled. They decided it was going to be his grave. Givens showed up at the nick of time with a shovel to whack Steve Harris' character in the head. Once the situation was in hand, he found out that Derrick was tangled up with Hot Rod.
Mara got pulled over and intimidated at gunpoint by Mooney who said that he was going to arrest her for trying to kill her husband unless she brought Crowder in.
Givens met with Dunham, who had done business with Arlo, Givens' late father. Givens laid it out: the Tennessee people were to not come into Harlan again and they were to leave McCready alone. Dunham tried to put fear in the marshal, but he was having none of it. Givens then drove McCready and Waters to a corner, kicked Waters out and McCready decided to stay with Givens. Givens drove all night and dropped her off at her home but not before finding out she had actually moved the money and played him so that he would investigate everything.
Poor Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman), he got interrupted again in his possible fun times with his hookers. This time it was his cousin Darryl (Michael Rapaport), who had come to town, and Dewey was none too happy to see him as evidenced by his pained expression when Darryl hugged him.
Alison and Givens were having wine and she told the lawman she wasn't going to jump in bed with him. Givens asked her to go bowling with him.
Paxton woke up with a grunt ... though it wasn't certain if he was cognizant.
Boyd found his shipment had been hit and all the people involved laying around dead on the road. He was impassive and told his men to clean it up. He seemed calm, but he could be very close to unraveling.
"You mean to say you're not crooked? Just incompetent?" -- Dunham to his soon-to-be-doomed drug dealer
"Are you being funny? Because I can't tell anymore." -- Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) to Givens
"My general rule is, you keep talking, I put you in the trunk." -- Givens to the Harris brothers
"In other words ... I'll kill four of you before you clear your weapons and I'll take my chances with the other two. And you see this star? That's going to make it legal." -- Givens to Dunham and his crew
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.